Set Design: Legacy (1990)
Came across some old photos from my work on the film Legacy (1990) as set designer. My design of the raft that carried the Mormon pioneers across the Mississippi (yes, that’s really the Ol’ Mississip’) came with a certain degree of fear and trepidation, in that I had never designed a raft before. Or anything that was meant to float for that matter.
The raft, made of rough-sawn planking, was made buoyant by embedding large blocks of Styrofoam below the deck. Left-to-right balancing of weight was largely a matter of luck. The raft was actually powered by an outboard motor, hidden under one of those crates stacked on the deck. The raft was pushed along with poles (for authenticity) for the scene during film, but as soon as the director yelled “cut!”, the motor was fired up and the raft was quickly steered back to shore for another take.
Incidentally, I had no idea the raft would be completely stuffed to the gills, and was helplessly sweating bullets watching the deck fall lower and lower in the water as the wagon, several horses, gear and all those people were loaded onto it. Luckiliy, the water was calm, and there was no wind. When the outboard motor was fired up, however, the rear of the deck would get a bit swamped. It always made the crew laugh to see the raft actually creating a wake behind it as it cruised upstream. But we got the shot and afterward I got some much needed sleep!
Lesson learned: Always make your raft twice as buoyant as you think it ever will need to be. You never know when an ox team will be added to it.